Dose of Happy: Birthday Parade
**Heads up, this post was submitted when the pandemic was just ramping up…sorry it took so long to post!**
Hey The Band,
I’ve been confined with my very sweet and very trying children for about 18 days now (but who’s counting) and we have no idea how long all of this will go on. I know many of you are in the same situation.
The first week was HARD. School was cancelled abruptly and my oldest child had a very hard time with the change in routine. Think epic screaming & crying over very benign things for several days, most of the day. They were stressed and everything was too much for them. I felt much the same way, mostly due to the constant screaming, but I refrained from laying on the floor kicking and crying (in front of the kids, anyway). I did resort to screaming (in the garage) and drinking whiskey (in the kitchen) the night the school district cancelled school for 6 weeks.
Then there came one beautiful moment in the afternoon where I was washing dishes and my children were not screaming. It was a lovely 5 minutes and I decided to peek around the kitchen corner to see what they were playing. To my dismay, it was a game called “alarm clock” invented by the 7 year old, where in the 3 year old is instructed (forced?) to say “beep beep” and the 7 year old smacks the 3 year old in the face, to press the snooze then start over again. The 3 year old did not want to say “beep beep” any longer but desperately wanted to play with the 7 year old. Now, I love that my oldest child appreciates the utility of a snooze button, but smacking the 3 year old in the face does not fall under “nice games to play” in my book. We had a talk about consent and making sure that everyone is having fun while playing and NOT SMACKING PEOPLE IN THE FACE! Did I mention that this was when they were getting along?
So anyway, things have been up and down and we are trying to get into some sort of routine with learning at home. Things are still dicey, but we are finding some moments to play and connect. I’m no longer freaking out that everything is shutting down and I’m no longer obsessively checking the news and Facebook (at least not today). I’m settling into the idea that this is going to be going on for a lot longer than I originally anticipated and our state will probably cancel school for the rest of the year. This makes me very, very sad.
We have many things to be grateful for, we are healthy and have toilet paper and bread and a house and a yard and those are not small things right now. This doesn’t change that we are all stressed, I’m worried about my grandparents, and it feels like society is falling apart. I have friends with compromised immune systems and young children, friends with mental health struggles, and my own family’s mental health struggles that we’ve been slogging through for the past year and long awaited therapy and psych appointments- that I fought tooth and nail for- that have been postponed indefinitely. I find myself cocooning into my own space and my own family to escape the stress of everything going on outside of my control. I’m an introvert. I like a lot of time alone (not that I’m getting much of that these days), but too much time in my own head and the hobgoblins come out. I’ve never been good at connecting with people, really, or maintaining friendships. Socializing is freaking stressful for me, if there is more than one other person to talk to. However, for me connecting with the larger world in some way, shape, or form keeps me grounded. It reminds me that people aren’t all bad, that I’m not all bad, that there is hope and that some things will be salvageable.
My dose of happy today came from one very small act. A mom who lives nearby posted in a Facebook group that her son was turning 2 and she was so sad that she had to cancel his birthday party. Someone suggested that we organize a happy birthday parade and all drive by their house honking and singing happy birthday at the top of our lungs. I wrote “Happy Birthday!” on some paper and the kids colored pictures to tape to the car. We tied a couple balloons to the side view mirrors and joined a parade of about 6 cars, honking and singing to one very happy looking little boy and his family smiling from their front lawn. It was small, but it was something, and my kids and I needed a reason to celebrate, no matter how small. It was fun.
I heard a quote the other day “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” I’m not looking at the stars yet, and I don’t intend to forget that I’m in the gutter, but every once in a while I’m going to try to look up.
I hope you can find a way to do that too.
P.S. Google tells me the quote is from Oscar Wilde
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